As Floridians, we’re not afraid of a little heat. But what about performing yoga in a room heated above 100 degrees? Practitioners of Bikram yoga do just that. Developed by Bikram Choudhury, Bikram yoga highlights 26 poses performed over a 90-minute class in a 105-degree room with 50 percent humidity. Sound intimidating? We asked Meredith Webb, owner of Hot Yoga Downtown in Palm Beach Gardens (561-429-3306), to help demystify the practice.
What benefits are achieved through Bikram yoga as opposed to conventional yoga?
Bikram allows your muscles to dilate and your body to detox more than in regular yoga simply because of the heat and environment of the class. Just by sitting on your mat sweating, you are detoxing through your skin, lungs, colon, kidneys and pancreas. Hot yoga speeds up how strengthening, balancing and flexibility benefits are received by the body.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for first-time practitioners?
In one’s first class, the goal is to simply stay in the room and observe the practice. I’ve had people take naps on their mats during class No. 1—and that’s great! Just showing up is 99 percent of the discipline.
Given that Bikram yoga is a repetition of 26 poses, how do you keep the class interesting for recurring students?
Currently, our oldest student is 91 and our youngest is 3. The yoga stays the same, so all students can watch their bodies change. The classes are designed to incorporate options from first-time students to some of the most advanced practitioners in the United States. No two classes are the same, and by continuing to go deeper into a set sequence, students can watch themselves advance from the inside (mind) out (posture). It is beautiful to see how life changes while the yoga remains the same.